×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Everything Molly's Game doesn't tell you about the true story

When screenwriter and The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin was looking to make his film directorial debut, he couldn't have picked a better story than that of former professional skier turned poker ring organizer Molly Bloom. In her 2014 memoir Molly's Game, Bloom delivered a scintillating story of how she went from giving up on her Olympic dreams, to being a waitress, and then to running one of the most lucrative underground gambling operations in the country. When Sorkin adapted her book for his 2017 film of the same name, he kept the narrative fairly faithful to the life of Bloom (played by Jessica Chastain in the film).

Even though the movie didn't stray too far from Bloom's own experiences, that doesn't mean it didn't alter or leave out a few key details. When adapting a book to film, there's always going to be things that get changed, and in the case of Bloom's celebrity filled poker games, a few of those details were written about in much more scandalous detail in her memoir. Let's take a look at what Molly's Game left out in the transition from real life to blockbuster movie.

The real story behind the end of Molly Bloom's skiing career

At the beginning of Molly's Game, we see Bloom getting ready to ski in the trials for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games. In a voiceover, Bloom says that she currently ranks third in her event in North America, despite the fact that at age 12 she suffered a severe back injury that almost ended her career. Then, she straps on her skis, takes off down the mountain, hits a twig just big enough to dislodge one of her boots, and has an epic crash landing that ends her sports career.

This is a spectacular and tense opening to the film, but it embellished the real story of the end of Molly Bloom's skiing career. Bloom did recover from a serious back injury, and went on to join the US Ski Team and place third nationally. She even had a nasty fall on an Olympic qualifying run in 1998 — but according to Tiebreaker, that fall was just one circumstance of many that led her to give up on her Olympic hopes. While it certainly makes for a more dramatic opening to portray her career ending in one terrifying accident, as with most athletes, it was more of a culmination of injuries and other factors that caused her to hang up her skis.

The identity of Player X

When Bloom eventually sets herself up as the organizer of underground poker games in Los Angeles, she attracts a number of high-powered Hollywood professionals. In the film, one regular, identified only as Player X (Michael Cera), becomes an integral part of her game. However, the unidentified power player quickly proves himself to be untrustworthy and cruel to his fellow players, often relishing more in their bitter defeats than his own wins. Eventually, he betrays Bloom by moving her game to another location and encouraging her other regulars to abandon her.

The details of Player X's petty actions are fairly accurate to Bloom's memoir, except for one detail: the film never reveals the identity of who exactly Player X is. In the book Molly's Game, it's never a secret that this nefarious gambler is none other than Spider-Man actor Tobey Maguire. Although Bloom kept the identities of many of her regulars a secret, by the time she wrote Molly's Game, Maguire had already been publicly identified as a member of Bloom's underground poker circuit thanks to a lawsuit.

Although Maguire's bad behavior made him one of the most notable figures in Bloom's memoir, he wasn't the only celeb to get mentioned by name in the book, but not the film.

The other celebrities that joined Molly's Game

A litany of celebrity encounters may have provided a certain amount of entertainment to Molly's Game, but that was clearly not the focus of Sorkin's film. One major thing that he decided to leave out were the many famous faces that posted up at the table while Bloom was running the show.

In addition to Leonardo DiCaprio, Maguire convinced Ben Affleck to stop by for a few hands. He may have regretted it almost instantly, as Bloom reported that he was joined at the table by notorious poker player and serial celebrity dater Rick Salomon. After Salomon asked Affleck a rather personal question about his ex Jennifer Lopez's backside, the table allegedly went silent before the actor responded: "'It was nice,' he said, and pushed into a huge pot."

When she began running games in New York City, another one of J-Lo's exes, baseball player Alex Rodriguez, joined the game. "Men, no matter what age, ilk, or net worth, idolize a professional athlete," Bloom wrote. "As they recognized him, they turned into excitable little boys."

As Bloom explained in an interview with Vice, these celebrity players weren't just frivolous thrills for her. Having people like DiCaprio and Rodriguez at her games drew players willing to make big buy ins just to sit next to their favorite celebs. "People want to sit at a table with them, be close to them," she said, "and this was a big draw to the game."